The History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk: Volume 1. Originally published by WS Crowell, Ipswich, 1846.
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Fritton lies on the western borders of Lothingland, and gives name to a beautiful lake, known as Fritton Decoy, though its waters are included in the boundaries of several parishes.
Rising near Hopton and Lound, and pursuing a winding course as a quiet rill for about a mile, it swells into the wide mere, called Browston Broad, which, contracting again, is crossed by the high road at Lound Run, where the stream soon after expands into a noble sheet of water. Sweeping hence for more than two miles, in a western direction, by graceful curves, which are in some parts nearly a quarter of a mile in width, it discharges its waters by a narrow creek, which, flowing past the ruined site of St. Olave's Priory, mingles with the tides of the Waveney. The shores of this charming decoy, which present a variety of beauties of the milder kind, are principally fringed with natural groups of the graceful birch-tree, mingled with oaks, which sweep the margin of the water with their light and pendulous sprays. Pike, perch, and eels, of considerable size, are taken here, and wild fowl, of different species, resort during winter to the shelter of its numerous inlets. The catching of the latter by artificial pipes or nets affords a considerable profit to various proprietors whose estates environ the shores.
The parish of Fritton seems to have been known to our Roman masters, for in a small hillock, lying about half a mile north of the lake, are occasionally found pieces of pottery, evidently moulded by the hands of that people. In the time of Edward the Confessor, Fridetun contained, as it does still, the two manors of Fritton and Caldecot, then written Caldecotan. Both were the estates of Earl Gurth, whose free-man, Godwin, held in the former, two carucates of land for a manor, in which were woods sufficient to maintain twenty swine. This free-man possessed two draught horses, sixteen swine, 160 sheep, three goats, and three apiaries, valued at twenty shillings; under whom two other free-men rented sixty acres of land, with a plough, valued at five shillings. This estate became, by forfeiture, the property of the Crown, and was managed for the Conqueror by Roger Bigot. (fn. 1) In the reign of Edward I., the manor of Fritton was held by Nicholas de Freton, and afterwards by the family of Fitz-Osbern. (fn. 2) In the reign of Edward III., Sir Robert de Mauteby was lord and patron, who was succeeded by John de Mauteby. In 1374, Sir John de Mauteby, son of Sir John de Mauteby, Knt., by his last will, dated at Fritton, leaves his body to be buried in the church of St. Edmund, at Fritton, before the altar of the blessed Virgin Mary. He bequeathed to Richard Galyerd, parson of the church there, whom he appoints one of his executors, forty pence, to be expended in masses for the good of his soul. Sir John's will was proved on the first of October in that year. In 1413, Robert Mauteby, Esq., enfeoffed Sir Simon Felbrigge, Sir Miles Stapleton, and Sir William Argentein, in divers manors and rents in Norfolk, and in Fritton manor in Suffolk, to fulfil his will. (fn. 3) These feoffees accordingly presented to the rectory here in 1425. John Mauteby, his son and heir, married Margaret, daughter of John Berney, of Reedham, Esq., by whom he had Margaret, his only daughter and heiress, who, marrying John Paston, Esq., son and heir of Sir William Paston, the judge, brought the manor and advowson of Fritton, inter alia, into her husband's family, where they continued nearly a century and half. On the 20th of October, in the tenth of Elizabeth, William Paston, of Paston, in the county of Norfolk, Esq., conveyed to John Throgmorton, of the city of Norwich, Esq., all that manor of Fritton, called Fritton Paston's, in Fritton, in the county of Suffolk, and all and singular the lands, tenements, gardens, pastures, feedings, marshes, woods, underwoods, liberty of foldage, waters, fishings, rents, advowsons, rectories, parsonages, and hereditaments whatsoever, to the same belonging, in Fritton, Belton, Caldecote, &c., within the Hundred of Lothingland, with all court-leets, &c., to hold to the said John Throgmorton, in fee, of the chief lord, &c., by the accustomed services, &c., and appointed John Caldecot, and Robert Brown, to deliver seizin, &c. John Throgmorton conveyed the said manor and premises, in the same year, to William Sydnor, Esq., who by deed indented, dated 6th of October, twenty-sixth of Elizabeth, in consideration of a jointure to Elizabeth, the wife of Henry Sydnor, his son and heir apparent, did enfeoff certain trustees, and their heirs, among other estates, of all that manor called Blundeston, and the manor of Fritton, with the appurtenances; and as to the manor of Fritton, &c., did declare the uses to be to the use of the said William Sydnor, and Bridget, his then wife, and after to the use of the said Henry, and of his heirs male, by the said Elizabeth, his wife, and afterwards to the right heirs of the said William. The marriage between Henry Sydnor and Elizabeth took place February 1st, twenty-seventh of Elizabeth. Henry Sydnor died 10th of December, in the 10th of James I.; William Sydnor died 26th of August, eleventh of James I. (fn. 4)
On the 30th of August, in the twelfth of James I., it was found that William, the eldest son of the said Henry, was then twenty-four years of age, and Elizabeth was then living; and that the manor of Fritton Paston's was holden of Sir John Heveningham's manor of North Leet, in soccage. (fn. 5) By an inquisition taken at Eye, 16th January, ninth of Charles I., and by another taken at Bungay, 29th of May, tenth of the same reign, upon the death of William Sydnor, Gent., he was found to die on the 13th of January, 1632, seized, inter alia, of the manor of Frytton, alias Fritton Paston's, &c., and the advowson of the church, held in soccage of the manor of Lothingland, and valued at £5. (fn. 6) Dying without issue male, it was found that Elizabeth, Anne, Sarah, Mary, Hester, Susanna, Abigail, and Lydia, were his daughters and heiresses. On the 19th of December, 1651, the said eight daughters and co-heiresses conveyed the manors of Blundeston and Fritton to William Heveningham, Esq., as already detailed under Blundeston, who resold them to John Tasburgh, Esq., who in turn conveyed them to Thomas Allin, of Lowestoft, Knt., in 1668; from whom they descended to the Anguishes; Richard Anguish, Esq., being lord in 1696. In 1704, Sir Richard Allin, alias Anguish, alienated the advowson of Fritton, as will be presently shown; and in 1710, his trustees, by Act of Parliament, held the manor of Fritton, and conveyed it to Samuel Fuller, Esq. Richard Fuller, Esq., M.P. for Yarmouth, devised this manor and estate to the Rev. Francis Turner, one of the ministers of Yarmouth chapel, for life; with remainder to the Rev. Charles Onley, of Essex; remainder to Mr. Francis Turner, of Yarmouth, surgeon, for life; remainder to James Turner, of Yarmouth, banker, for life; remainder to the Rev. Joseph Turner, Dean of Norwich, for life; remainder to the Rev. Richard Turner, perpetual curate of Yarmouth, for life; remainder to the Rev. Francis Turner. Mr. Francis Turner, surgeon, during the lifetime of the Rev. Francis Turner, purchased the life interests of those in remainder, and devised the same to Elizabeth his wife, for life. Then one-fourth to Mr. Dawson Turner, Mr. James Turner, and Mr. Powell; one-fourth to the Rev. Dean Turner; one-fourth to Mrs. Dade; and one-fourth to the Rev. Richard Turner.
All these several persons, by deed dated the 9th and 10th of November, 1819, conveyed the manor and the bulk of the estate to Andrew Johnston, of Hempnall, in Norfolk, Esq., in fee. This gentleman, who was a West India proprietor, went to Jamaica, soon after his purchase; and in July, 1830, the manor and estate were sold by auction at Yarmouth, and were purchased by Francis Turner, Esq., of Lincoln's Inn, London, who is the present lord. The name of the manor is Fritten, alias Fritton, alias Fretton, alias Freton Paston's.
The advowson of Fritton, after having remained so many centuries with the manor, was granted, November 4th, 1704, by Sir Richard Allin, alias Anguish, to Robert and Francis Baldwyn. In 1714, Samuel Fuller purchased it, inter alia, and in the following year, the said Samuel Fuller, the elder, and Samuel Fuller, the younger, by indre of lease and release, for a competent sum of money, conveyed the advowson of Fritton to Gregory Clarke, of Blundeston, and his heirs, with condition to do any further act of assurance at the cost of Mr. Clarke. John Fuller, senior, being then beyond sea, a recovery was suffered of the advowson, and a good title made. Gregory Clarke, by will bearing date June 3rd, 1726, bequeathed this advowson, with all its appurtenances, to his brother-in-law, James Birkin, Esq., from whom it passed by marriage to the family of Burroughes, of Burlingham, in Norfolk, of whom it was purchased by the Rev. Francis William Cubitt, who is the present patron and incumbent. (fn. 7) This gentleman married Jane Mary, daughter of the Rev. Henry Nicholas Astley, son of the late Sir E. Astley, Bart., and uncle to the Lord Hastings; and has issue Frank Astley Cubitt, Spencer Cubitt, and three daughters, Lucy, Jane, and Sophia. He is a younger brother of Edward Cubitt, Esq., of Honing Hall, in Norfolk; and has a handsome seat overlooking the most beautiful part of Fritton Lake.
The Manor of Caldecot Hall.
In the time of Edward the Confessor, Earl Gurth held the manor of Caldecot, which comprised a carucate of land; and Bund was his tenant. It was then worth 10 shillings. At the Norman Survey its value had decreased to 8 shillings, when it was returned as the property of Ralph Balistarius, the same who held Burgh Castle. (fn. 8) Like all other estates, it soon fell into the hands of a family that assumed their name from the place, and accordingly, in the reign of Henry III., we find Henry Caldecot obtaining a license for free-warren, a market, and a fair, here, and in Belton. (fn. 9)
In the following reign, this Henry Caldecot, who is then termed a knight, is returned as holding his estates in Fritton, Caldecot, and Belton, of the King, in capite; which estates he derived from his ancestors, who obtained them from Robert Estan.
Henr: de Caudecotes, miles, tenet de d'no rege in capite pla: socag: in Freton Caldecotes et Belton, de p'qsito anc: suor: pt: socag: q'd fuit Rob'ti: Estan faciend: in p: an: Dno: R: xxvj. sol: iiijd. et p: socag: illo q'd fuit p'dcī Rob'ti: Estan v. sol: set q't socag: ip'e Hen: teneat, neciunt, nec inquirere possunt. (fn. 10)
This Sir Henry Caldecot bore for arms, per pale or and azure, a chief gules. He left a son, William de Caldecot, living in the eighth of Edward II., who by Joane his wife, who re-married to Bartholomew Daviller, left a son, John de Caldecot, mentioned in the fifth of Edward III. The family unquestionably derived their name from this manor, in Fritton, which they seem to have given to lordships in Onehouse and Fynborough. They were also land-owners in Debach.
The manor of Caldecot Hall was, probably, soon after the property of the Fastolfs, for Blomefield, the historian of Norfolk, says that Sir John de Ulverstone, Knt., was feoffee, in 1390, of the manor and advowson of Fritton, for Sir John Fastolf, Knt. This, however, could not be strictly correct, as the manor and advowson of Fritton were at that time the estate of the Mautebys, as already shown. Blomefield had probably confounded this lordship with that of Caldecot, in Fritton, which, it appears, Sir John Fastolf presented to Magdalen College, Oxford, as we learn from the following authority: "It is ascertained that the Boar's Head, in Southwark, now divided into tenements, and Caldecot manor, in Suffolk, and probably other estates in Lovingland, in the same county, were part of the benefactions of Sir John Fastolf, Knt., to Magdalen College, Oxford." (fn. 11) The Master and Fellows of this Society are still owners of the manor of Caldecot Hall.
The estate has been long leased out, and by the quit-rentals for the manor of North Leet it appears, belonged in 1664 to William Fidder, Gent. It was afterwards leased to Mr. Alexander Hasler; in 1724 to Mr. Hopton; in 1749 to Mr. Hickman; and in 1771 to the Governors of the Grey Coat Hospital, in London, who are still lessees of the estate, though the college retains the manor.
Will'us de Wydingham, et alii dederunt Rico Galicio, parsone ecclie in villa de Freton in Lothynglond unam rodam terre cum p'tin ib'm. (fn. 12)
which is dedicated to St. Edmund, and valued in the King's books at £6. 13s. 4d., comprises a nave and chancel, without aisles, and a circular tower, in which hangs one bell.
Three different periods of construction may be assigned to the component portions of this remarkable edifice. The tower, which is very old, and exhibits in its masonry a mixture of bricks and flint-work, appears raised on a foundation yet more ancient. The nave, by far the most modern part of the structure, has been rebuilt without any regard to symmetrical adjustment with the other members of the fabric, and projects considerably towards the south, beyond the foundations of the ancient church, thereby producing a very unpleasing effect, especially when viewed from the south-east. A reference to the annexed ground-plan will show the extent and relative position of this nave, as appended to the old tower and the chancel. The chancel, which is the oldest, and unquestionably a portion of the original church erected here, is a very singular structure, and, though small in size, is built with great solidity, and considerable care. It has been termed "a perfect specimen of Saxon architecture," but without any just reason, as it possesses a most decided Norman character, except where barbarized by some Gothic improver of the Tudor era.
The east window ranges in a right line with the centre of the tower, and is the only original aperture in the chancel. It is a plain semicircular Norman light, scarcely five inches in width, much splayed within, and finished with external dressings of squared stone, laid flush with the wall.
This ancient chancel formed a portion only, in the writer's opinion, of the original structure, serving, perhaps, as the [Ieron Bema], or sanctuary, of the edifice, and was never an entire church in itself. The interior is covered with a vaulting of rubblework; diagonal lines proceed from the four corners of each compartment of the roof, and cross in the centre; but there are no ribs or groins of wrought stone. It is now separated from the nave by a low pointed arch, and entered by a descent of one step through a screen of oak. An interior view of this chancel, with the assistance of the ground-plan and exterior, will elucidate, it is hoped, the peculiarities of this edifice. The nave, raised probably during the decorated period of church architecture, requires no especial notice, and is covered, like the chancel, with thatch. There is a pedestal, or projecting pipe of a piscina, attached to the south wall of the chancel, and several old stones, without inscriptions, lie on the floor. The ancient font has disappeared, and in its place stands a wooden pillar, somewhat in shape like the support of a sun-dial. To this is affixed, when required for the sacrament of baptism, a large silver vase, "The gift," as we learn from the circumscription, "of Richard Fuller, Esq., of Fritton Hall, to the parish church of Fritton, in Suffolk, in the year 1769." This unmeaning, but costly bowl is, therefore, the dedication of tastelessness, but not the offering of parsimony. The small east window contains a few pieces of stained glass, the fragments of a splendid enrichment which once sparkled here in greater profusion, as we learn from a survey of this church made about the year 1573. (fn. 13) At that period the following armorial ensigns were in the windows of "Freton church."
Gul: 3 gemelles, or, a canton arj: syded with or and gules, quarterly a battune in bend gules. Mauteby impaled with Lovaine . . . . . . . . and Clavering syded. Caley impaled with Mauteby. B and or, pale, a chief gul: impaling Repps.
In the parish registers is the following rather curious entry: "On the 17th day of August, 1816, Hannah Freeman did penance in this church for defaming the character of Mary Banham, spinster." I transcribe the next article, as showing the price of wearing apparel in the year 1701, furnished to a parish pauper.
|"Layd out for the moder Codnum||s.||d.|
|For a gowne||4||6|
|More, for a par of bodyes||2||2|
|For a shift||2||0|
|For a petty coat||1||10|
|For a pair of storkings||1||8|
|For a mentell||1||8|
|For a hat||10|
|For a pair of shoes||2||4|
Monuments.—The Rev. William Bevan, clerk, many years Rector, died June 14th, 1767, æt. 60. Francis Turner, Esq., of Great Yarmouth, and of this parish, died 17th Dec. 1796, æt. 54. Elizabeth, his relict, died 5th Jan. 1830, aged 84. On a tablet imbedded in the exterior face of the chancel wall: Thomas Skeet, Rector 45 years, died ye 22nd Sept. 1720, aged 68. This gentleman must, therefore, have been inducted in his twenty-third year.
Rectors of Fritton.
Estimatio ejusdem x marc. Norwich Domesday.
The parish of Fritton contains 1562 acres, 3 roods, 31 perches of land, of which 69 acres, 17 perches, are covered by the lake. Domesday Book makes no mention of a church or glebe lands here: the glebes at the present day include 13 acres, 3 roods, 33 perches, and the rent charge in lieu of tithes amounts to £270.
The population in 1841 was returned at 223 souls.